Malta, tech park strike deal on power lines

Power lines into the Luther Forest Technology Campus will be crisscrossing the skies leading east through the town of Malta, but in the central business district, those wires will be underground.

Following a public hearing before the town board on Monday, Oct. 1, the town board inked a deal to have 1.1 miles of electrical utility lines strung below ground, compared to original plans calling for 3.1 miles of line overhead.

Town residents have been concerned about the eyesore the lines would present in the area of Malta characterized by the forest. Developers countered that lines strung overhead would be more resilient and easier to repair than underground lines.

Putting part of the line below ground will reduce the visual impact near 84 Lumber on Route 9, said Michael Relyea, executive director of the technology campus economic development corp.

The National Grid power lines will connect to a Malta sub-station and a second station in Stillwater.

The deal reduces the mitigation fee the development corporation was offering the town in return for allowing the lines, from $1.5 million to $975,000.

With the town hall crowded with residents Monday night, some people wondered if there was any way to have all the lines laid underground.

"This is more an issue of visual impact that economics," said Ann Klotz. "Would $975,000 cover the costs of putting the entire line underground?"

Relyea said running the utility lines below ground carry a cost six to 10 times higher than traditional overhead lines.

"This agreement addresses all the issues," said Supervisor Paul Sausville.

Work on piping to carry power lines under roads is slated to begin as early as this fall. Construction on the power lines themselves is scheduled to be done in late spring 2008. ""

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